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Sharing people, services sends right message

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in which so many businesses were operating under scaled-back hours or even total shutdowns, the economy still has not bounced back.

Employers all over the Mahoning Valley are struggling to balance budgets and fill employment vacancies — and that doesn’t apply just to the private sector.

That’s why we were so pleased to see some smaller nearby school districts come together to share services. The move will mean not only a cost savings for the taxpayers, but it could ease the struggles to fill vacant positions.

Southington Board of Education recently approved a shared services agreement with Windham Exempted Village Schools in Portage County to share the costs of a school treasurer. The measure will begin Aug. 1. After Southington Treasurer Janet Ward announced her July 31 retirement after 14 years, the logic was probably simple.

Southington and Windham districts are only 8 miles apart and comparable in enrollment size and budget. Southington has 395 students and 70 staff, and Windham has 485 students and 89 staff. Southington’s budget is $6.8 million and Windham’s, $9 million.

Now, Joel Snider from Windham schools has been approved to serve as new treasurer for the two districts on a three-year agreement. The agreement calls for each district to pay half of Snider’s contracted $82,000 salary, and Snider will split his time between the two districts. Most recently Snider worked with the treasurer’s office in the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio.

Sharing a school district treasurer is rare, but not unheard of. In fact, Mathews and LaBrae school districts in Trumbull County in June renewed their shared service agreement for treasurer Brad Panak. He serves both districts in a similar setup that began about a year ago. His salary also is shared.

LaBrae Superintendent Anthony Calderone said Panak will be paid $86,253 for 2021-22; $87,529 for 2022-23; and $88,799 for 2023-24. Mathews and LaBrae split the total cost of employment equally, saving each district $35,000 to $40,000 annually.

Sharing employees, particularly those in higher paid administrative roles, only makes sense. The message this sends to taxpayers is significant — that the school districts are looking for ways to be good stewards of public funds.

We applaud these districts, and urge others to look for ways to share personnel costs like this, as well as other services on things like group purchasing or even maintenance equipment or tools not used every day.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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